- Cut labor costs by tracking and maintaining accurate inventories. End material hunting trips.
- Eliminate material stock outs on the manufacturing line. Improve utilization.
- Set up time reductions by matching jobs to equipment/tools and tracking tool life.
- Elicit quicker response times to customer order changes.
- Minimize instances of quality non-conformance.
- Full utilization of planned maintenance time to prolong planned machine run times.
- Reduce obsolete stock and improve space utilization.
Making the Business Case for RFID Adoption in Manufacturing
Hitting the business goals of satisfying the shareholders and customers alike is becoming an uphill battle in an ever expanding global marketplace. To meet the expectations of the demanding customer and staying ahead of the competition requires manufacturers to cut the gap between the needed and available capabilities. Customer-centric companies have realized that in addition to being customer focused, reducing the information time lag across all functional units will add value faster. RFID technology will augment the available capability by providing new real-time intelligence across the shop floor that can be used to feed and recalibrate plant-centric applications, and enable them to deliver reliable decisions and operate close to the needed capabilities.
Manufacturers may have no choice but to comply with government and retailers' mandates, but the potential of deploying RFID upstream in their supply chains will allow them to recoup their cost and more by realizing the following benefits.
High-impact Applications of RFID in the Manufacturing Space
Planned activities constantly change in any manufacturing operation. Variability is inherent and is more pronounced as the complexity increases. Application of RFID in such a dynamic system to capture and eventually act on those types of information that have a direct influence on disrupting efficient throughput will yield consistent benefits. The following applications can be used to sense and control critical processes to enable sustained plant load handling to meet demands on time.
Real-time Manufacturing Optimization
Typically manufacturing operations run on schedule for the first few hours (or minutes) after the new schedule has been generated. Regardless of the reason, conditions change and can become chaotic if not properly monitored. Operators are usually expected to make changes on the fly without holistic visibility or information about order priorities, and this causes a lot of knee-jerk reactions and, hence, inefficiencies. Manufacturing decisions require real-time execution of complex logic to help make the right decisions using a variety of shop floor data.
By leveraging RFID to track raw material levels and WIP, reusable assets, and recording operator- equipment status provides visibility into the changing capacity landscape and triggers informed re-routing, re-scheduling and load add-on decisions to quickly reclaim lost utilization.
Matching Tools and WIP to Equipment
Fluctuating demand and the focus on pushing volume out of the door for cost purposes takes attention away from ensuring the right tools and WIP are used on the right equipment. There is not much detail on the events performed on the machines as to which tools were used, the remaining life of tool bits, which equipment is better suited for specific operations, etc. In the case of downtimes, operators are expected to get maintenance help and quickly fix it. But without a database of what has gone wrong in the past, there can be frequent tool and equipment breakdowns, which raises scrap rate.
Tagging WIP/tools and reading at the equipment just before set-up prevents resource mismatch. Additionally, the tool bits usage can also be monitored and pulled out at the right time to avoid breaking and damage.